Health Department cites businesses Up North for violating health and safety protocols

Dec 10, 2020

Credit Interlochen Center for the Arts

The Iron Pig Smokehouse in Gaylord and Friske’s Farm Market in Antrim County have repeatedly defied health and safety protocols during the pandemic despite enforcement from their local health department.

After refusing to close during the state’s “pause” on indoor dining, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan has fined The Iron Pig Smokehouse and ordered an Emergency Dining Room Closure.

The Iron Pig’s food and liquor licenses, which are issued by the state, have also been suspended.

Representatives from the restaurant couldn’t be reached in time for publication, but they remain defiant in a message on their social media.

“We’re working on behalf of all restaurants & liquor licensees in the State to get this Emergency Dining Room Closure overturned so we can get back to business,” they posted to Facebook on Dec. 9.

MDHHS has a hearing scheduled Friday over The Iron Pig’s violations.

Health Department Officer Lisa Peacock says there isn’t much else left for them to do.

“We have followed all of the steps of the enforcement process that have been laid out,” she said in a press briefing.

Friske’s Market in Antrim County is another business that has defied protocols and doesn’t seem to want to stop. In August they were cited by the Health Department for not enforcing the statewide mask order. The owners countered with a lawsuit against Gov. Whitmer for imposing the order and the health department for their role in enforcing it.

“It’s really just an impossible position to be put in as a private business to have to refuse service to a given person based on their convictions and beliefs in something,” Co-owner John Friske said to IPR.

Then on December 5 they held a Christmas Party that attracted lots of visitors and had a full line stretching for nearly four hours for Santa, according to Friske’s.

The Health Department is pursuing similar enforcement actions against Friske’s, according to Peacock.

John Friske said Thursday he hadn’t heard from the Health Department yet and was unaware of what would happen next.